Day 8: Nuts About Nebraska

Ever have one of those days where everything goes right?  Me neither!  But it was pretty damned close today.  99% sun, AC to keep us meat locker cool despite upper 90s outside, lots of planned and unplanned subjects to shoot, happy & healthy dogs…

I’ve been to Nebraska several times before — and done a fairly thorough job, so I thought.  But I’m always adding more stuff to my list from my research and it all added up to quite a lot of stops yesterday and today.  Tomorrow, I should be able to wrap up and get to Colorado.  About a day and a half ahead of schedule!  Which always makes me nervous that something will go wrong.  But let’s not jinx my good fortune.

It’s nearly 1am — and I have tons of photos for you.  The day started in Lincoln.  Here’s a nice mid-century building that I hadn’t noticed before.  Love the little fins and the asymmetrical use of glass:



A “classic” rooster in Lincoln.  If you can’t get enough of them either — I have dozens more at my website:



A couple of signs from Lincoln — the metal on this one appears to be brand new — probably a replica of an older sign:



And an oldie — though maybe the plastic part was a later substitution.  And even the text doesn’t quite fill the space right and the panel shows signs of patching.  So probably a different name originally.



Moving on to York.  I’m thinking neon originally — and then a very nice refurbishing job after removing it.  This one’s monster big so I give the owner credit for fixing instead of replacing with a junky plastic sign:



Don’t you love happy endings?  I’ve stopped by the Shady Bend in Grand Island for years.  The long-vacant building was surrounded with weeds.  I peered in the dirty windows to imagine what must have been.  It just seemed doomed to crumble eventually.  Then, I read that someone actually bought and fixed up the place.  Now, the weeds are gone and it’s a very nice little restaurant.  More info here:


The entrance area features original cabinets — the restaurant is to the right:



More from Grand Island:



And another success story.  The Grand Theatre in Grand Island is being restored:

I had read that Tim Dunn, the master of vitrolite, was going to be restoring the facade.  So… when I pulled up and saw the two cranes, I suspected one of the guys must be him.



Sure enough — I was flattered that Tim came down to meet me when I hollered up at him.  Some of you may recall my blog coverage a couple of months ago of the restored Quarrier Diner in Charleston, WV.  Yep, Tim worked on that:

and the Ritz Theatre in Talladega, AL:

and countless other theatres, storefronts, and interiors.  Here’s his website with links to info & photos of some of his other projects:




And here’s a shot of the new replica sign with the cranes down for the matinee:



It seems about half of the Sinclair stations in Nebraska have the dinosaurs on their roofs.  The stations seem so modern that I suspect these statues are still being produced:





One more from Grand Island — the Antlers Motel:



From Hastings:



From Minden — Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village.  I finally stopped & went INTO this place rather than just shooting the sign/building and scurrying on.   There was an old carousel there that I needed to shoot for the website.  The building might look car showroom-y — but it was actually built for the museum.



There are collections of all sorts — entire buildings moved here, guns, victrolas, printing presses, you name it:

Definitely worth the $13 or so.   Lots of old cars — dating all the way back from classic 1950s/1960s to Model Ts or As. But the one that stopped me dead in my tracks was this Amphicar.  I’ve never seen one in real life before — it seemed so small and adorable.  They were built to be driven on land and water.  Here’s more about them:


Note the propellers in back:



And I never knew there was a Valentine diner here.  It was originally installed in Kearney, NE in 1947.  It was moved here in 1953:



One more from Pioneer Village:  this truly neat sign:



Lest you forget about my roadtripping buddies — time for a swim in the Platte River in Kearney.  Gremmie motors towards a floating biscuit chunk:



Fixie tells me how she feels:



Grippie with lots of spring in her step — 15 and blind and doesn’t give a damn:



Meanwhile, Nik’s out there, nearly blind himself, totally missing the toy that is inches from his head.  Luckily, he knows right/left, come/back so I can direct him to the target:



The new vision challenge has not diminished his obsession with retrieving one bit:



On to Gothenburg — I guess this qualifies as a scaffold sign even though it’s not on a rooftop:



From McCook — I practically stood on Sparkle’s roof for this one — and still couldn’t get the entire bottle in the shot:



And finally, a photo-op from Gothenburg.    Note the “Headin’ West” which is appropriate for this trip — and the days yet to come (nearly four more weeks to go folks!):








That’s a wrap.  Hope you enjoyed this deluxe post.  I can’t promise this many photos every night.   I know I have to shoot some gooey desserts or some kind of food for you.  Any other special requests?


20 thoughts on “Day 8: Nuts About Nebraska

    • Thanks! It was a very fruitful day and I was overdue to post some doggie pix.

      They did a fantastic job with the Shady Bend. I hope they get enough business. It was jumpin’ when I was there yesterday.

  1. Hooray! I love to hear that things went well, your photos came out great and the pups are happy. I’m totally putting Pioneer Village on my list of places to check out.

    Isn’t it fun when you think you’ve “seen it all” and yet there’s always something new to discover? Sometimes I see things I’ve missed many times, simply because of the way the sun was hitting it, or that I’ve come from a different direction. Always good to know there are still treasures yet to find.

    LOVE the Heading West photo with the pups – that’s greeting card worthy. Wagon HO!

    • When I started this website thing a dozen years ago or so, I thought, well, how many vintage signs and gas stations and diners could there be out there. Must be finite and something I could accomplish after a couple years. Ha!!!!

  2. Deluxe is right! What a coup to meet Tim. Of course, love the photos of my friends. That little shark fin toy is great. Glad you had such a great day!

    • Glad you tuned in for the doggie pix. Shark fin toy went bye-bye today. The river current was too strong and Nik could not find it despite my best directionals. That’s three toys we’ve lost now in rivers. I’m sticking to the cheaper toys in them from now on. We love the shark fin & alligator toys (made by Chuck-it — and even fit those hurling plastic arm things). They project upwards for dogs that have trouble seeing. But I guess I need an even bigger fin now — like a buoy size!

  3. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Nebraska! Come on back anytime!

    Pioneer Village really is an impressive place. I sort of describe it as stepping back into history, via the 1950s – but truly that’s part of its charm.

    Thanks for the great photos! Keep it up!

    • I think they’ve got more early 1900s stuff than 1950s stuff. But there’s a big range of eras. I think I’ve gone by about three times now — but each time, the wrong time of day for them to be open. I will be back thru Nebraska — just don’t know when. In general, I’m cycling through states in-depth about once every four to six years. It’s a big country!

  4. amazing you met this guy, Tim. i bet interviewing him would make for a really fascinating article. he must have so many stories.

    loved this post, and not just because i’m a former nebraskan.

    that picture with the dogs in the covered wagon made me choke with laughter it was so great! i think we don’t need treat pics anymore if you periodically do these types of amazing posts, debra jane. i want to support your healthy eating!



    • I’ve thought about starting a storefront section at my website for a couple years now — but really, I think I have enough topics to cover. So I usually just have the vitrolite stuff at my blog. Appropriate that Tim appears there, too.

      Yesterday was just a perfect storm — the Tim thing, the museum & finally getting around to doggie pix, then the photo-op covered wagon. I don’t expect all that very often in one day. It just worked out — esp. with the sun and all. Today — way less volume because of interstate miles, crummy weather, etc. So it’ll be a much shorter post.

  5. Love to hear that you had a fantastic day. All the work you do on these trips, you deserve it! I wish you many more fantastic days on your journey.

    The Grand Theater: be still, my heart! Took my breath away. All good wishes to you and the pups.

    • Thanks, Gale! I was beginning to wonder if you were still on board or if I’d said something that offended thee.

      The glass on the Grand Theatre is all new vitrolite. I didn’t get the details on why it all had to be replaced — but even that is impressive. And, in the end, means it’ll be around for decades to come.

      • Of course I’m still on board! Missed a few days while on vacation hiking in the wilderness, no internet. But all caught up with you again, and I do love hearing about your perfect day. I wish ALL perfect days for you, my friend.

      • Hiking in the wilderness? No internet? How is that possible? You must fill me in one day.

        Today was far from perfect weatherwise — but still beats being at work or a mechanic’s waiting room!

  6. about the “Amphi-car” my high school French teacher had one and drove it to school daily. She said she actually did use it in water too! She drove right in at ‘boat launch ramps’!!

    • I’ll see what I can do…. You are following the Flickr stream on this trip, too, right? Some giant statues there — must be some animals already or to come:


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